Free Sample Chapter
The following is a small sample from The Fine Art of Small Talk
IT’S UP TO YOU TO ASSUME THE BURDEN OF CONVERSATION
If you generally wait for someone else to take initiative in a conversation, you have been self-centered. It’s true! You have allowed your own comfort to take precedence over every other person’s. You haven’t been dong your fair share of the work. If you’ve largely ignored your conversational responsibilities, it’s time to take ownership. You cannot rely on the other person to carry the conversation for you- a monologue is a chore and seldom very interesting. Furthermore, one-word answers to questions do not count as shouldering your share of the burden.
The first step in becoming a great conversationalist is becoming invested in the conversation and actively working to help the other person feel comfortable. Take a look at the list of icebreaker questions that follow and make a commitment to use at least four of them in your next conversation. If you’re afraid you won’t remember them, write them down, put them in your pocket, and refer to them before you go into the event. If you go blank while you’re there, excuse yourself for a moment and walk into the restroom to take a peek at your list. The most famous and worn-out icebreaker is that age-old question What do you do for a living? It’s so standard that it didn’t make the icebreaker list. Here are some other ways to begin a conversation that will provide a refreshing diversion from shoptalk. You’ll never ask them all, just the ones that seem appropriate for that particular conversation and time. And be prepared to reciprocate, since your conversation partner is likely to return whatever question you pose.
- Describe a typical day on the job.
- How did you come up with this idea?
- What got you started in this industry/area of practice?
- What got you interested in marketing/research/teaching?
- What do you enjoy most about your profession?
- What separates you and your firm from your competition?
- Why does your company _________?
- Describe some of the challenges of your profession.
- What do you see as the coming trends in your business?
- What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?
- What do you think of the movie/restaurant/party?
- Tell me about the best vacation you’ve ever taken.
- What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
- If you could replay any moment in your life, what would it be?
- What one thing would you really like to own? Why?
- Tell me about one of your favorite relatives?
- What was it like in the town where you grew up?
- What would you like to come back as in your next life?
- Tell me about your kids.
- What do you think is the perfect age? Why?